The King of Crass lives in my Neighbourhood  

Posted by Tumwijuke Mutambuka in , ,

Last night I was treated to an appalling example of Ugandan bourgeoisie.

It was about 7:30 p.m. and I was stuck in traffic at the Clock Tower junction on the Kampala-Entebbe Road.

As usual, I was passing time listening to a boring radio talk show that was hosting a mind-numbingly simplistic political discussion. I was also counting the number of suppliers of affordable laser-guided missiles, which I would use to take out every lousy radio show host in Uganda.

In the middle of that obviously stimulating mental work out, my attention was drawn the car ahead of me. It was a new, flashy silver-gray Mercedes-Benz E 200 Kompressor. One of those with impressive-sounding numbers attached to its performance review – 2,295cc; 2.3 liters; 4 in-line front engine with 90.9 mm bore; 8.8 compression ratio; a 53 litre fuel tank. Complete gibberish to me.

What drew me to the car was not its impressive portfolio, but a small 12 inch screen placed at the front, just below the rearview mirror. There it was, the epitome of automotive vulgarity: a vehicle DVD player.

Let me explain the futility of owning that ostentatious electronic.

Uganda’s roads are richly endowed with potholes. The potholes are not the small, ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind you get in other developing countries. These are large and deep enough to drown a year-old infant and are available every 5 meters along many of Kampala’s major roads.

Playing a CD or DVD in these conditions is pointless, no matter how great the anti-skip function on your player is.

Complicating the problem is the absolute madness on the streets of Kampala. With more than 2,000 clinically insane motorcycle riders zigzagging through the streets and passenger service omni buses fighting for every inch of the roads, one glance off the road will land you in a ditch.

Still, I was transfixed by the DVD. I followed the Merc out of the traffic and on to the main Entebbe Road, speeding past other cars in my old Hobbly Wobbly to catch up with it. I was very interesting in finding out what the occupants of the car were watching and how fascinating it was they could not wait for the 30 minute ride home before watching the movie in the comfort of their home.

About five kilometers away, at about Najjanankumbi, I caught up with car. I was aghast at my discovery. First of all, there was only one person in the car – the driver – whose attention was clearly on the road. Why was he playing the DVD? For whose benefit?

More shocking was the kind of movie he was watching. The archetype of mediocre populism in Africa’s film industry: Ekinigeria. Nigeria’s biggest product - shoddy, pedestrian Nollywood movies.

I was too horrified to drive any further and parked Hobbly Wobbly on the side of the road. How could this be? The Merc had such flash, such pizzazz and yet … Ekinigeria?

Why would someone who clearly worked hard to elevate himself in society take such a leap backwards? What was he looking for? Did he identify with the cheap tales of superstition and witchcraft that the movie had to offer?

Bewildered, I continued my journey home, the Merc safely a long distance ahead of me. I thought of a grassy pasture and talking cows to take my mind off the horror.

I was nearly cured by the time I arrived at my gate a few minutes later. However, as I walked around my car to open the gate, another vehicle zoomed up the road and flashed its lights at me. Thinking it was a friendly neighbours, I stood aside and waved at the car. But instead of a wave in response, the driver of the car whistled at me.

“You ala chute mama,” the driver shouted before speeding off.

It was my nightmare. The Merc was back.

The King of Crass lives in my neighbourhood.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 6:49 AM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


LOL! You are an amazing story teller Rachel!

You'd think that on the other side of the atlantic people would have more sense... allow themselves to be a little more critical in their thinking. Yeah... right. Apparently NOT!

Some people (especially black hollywood) will have the DVD screens in the back of their headrests and still have the DVD on! AND they're playing porn!


Looking forward to other posts my dear.

6:05 PM

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